from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
Or rather not news. Some stalwart leftists claim that the corruption in the Australian unions, including the almost proven one in Health Services Union (HSU), is a figment of the Murdoch’s media malicious imagination. The slightly more intelligent ones try to claim that the corruption, if any, is very minor and in any case just an aberration, which has nothing to do with the fantastic fight the unions maintain on behalf of the oppressed workers. Well, even Jimmy Hoffa would say that; and look at Detroit now..
Travails of ex-HSU secretary Craig Thomson [Sydney Morning Herald: Don’t blame Thomson, union image fell behind long ago] and ex-PM [Our Prime Minister is a Crook Part X] and ex-trade union lawyer [Sydney Morning Herald: Julia Gillard’s ex Bruce Wilson in court appeal to block access to documents] Julia Gillard are well know, at least to those not relying on ABC. And the spectre of the Royal Commission looms…
Spanish comrades-in-corruption have a problem identical to that of our unions – investigation into the General Union of Workers (UGT)’s corrupt behaviour. Unión General de Trabajadores was established in 1888 on the principles of Marxist socialism, and was banned during Franco’s times. It is affiliated with the Spain’s main socialist party, currently in opposition, Partido Socialista Obrero Español – PSOE.
The New York Times [Big Spanish Union Facing an Investigation on Misuse of Funding]:
“Now, one of the country’s two main unions is facing a crisis of its own. It is accused by the regional government of Andalusia, Spain’s largest region, of misusing at least 1.8 million euros ($2.46 million) in public money that was intended for unemployed workers. The money was said to be used to pay for events and gifts to union officials.
The union has denied any wrongdoing. But the scandal has already led to the resignation of the head of the Andalusian chapter of the union, the left-leaning General Union of Workers, or U.G.T., and a judge has opened a criminal investigation into the chapter’s finances.
The investigation started over a month ago, when the regional government said it had identified $2.46 million of misused subsidies and demanded reimbursement. In recent days, the regional government said it had widened its investigation and was checking another batch of suspicious subsidy claims by the union amounting to €7.5 million.
“This is certainly the biggest case of corruption in the history of our unions,” said Roberto Miño Reig, a lawyer at the firm Cremades & Calvo-Sotelo in Madrid. “The unions should have been playing a key role in this crisis, but instead they have lost a lot of prestige.”
. . .
The combined membership in Spanish unions has fallen to about 2.8 million from 3.2 million in 2007, before the financial crisis. Union membership now stands at 15.9 percent of the Spanish work force, above the rates of only Poland, Estonia and France among European Union nations, according to a recent study by the Instituto de Estudios Económicos, a Spanish research institute. . . . “
Similarly, the Australian union membership is laughable – the unions represent 18% of all Australian workers and just 13% in private sector.
Mr Méndez, the head of the General Union of Workers, would not comment on exactly how the Andalusian chapter could have misused Spanish as well as European Union subsidies that it received mainly to help develop training programs for unemployed workers.
But Andalusia’s public prosecution office and the regional government say they have found documents showing that the union falsified accounts to claim public subsidies and used the money for frivolous expenses. They include spending just over €100,000 to buy 700 leather bags, as well as pens for participants in one of its conferences and organizing a party during Seville’s annual Feria celebration, at a cost of about €12,000, according to photocopied invoices that were leaked to Spanish media outlets.
Even before the latest accusations against the General Union of Workers, the unions found themselves entangled in another corruption scandal in Andalusia, centering on whether the region’s governing Socialist politicians, in concert with union officials, paid millions in fictitious early retirement benefits to affiliates and family relatives in Andalusia. The case was opened in early 2011 by Judge Mercedes Alaya but has gradually widened, and her list of suspects now reads like a Who’s Who of Andalusia’s officialdom. Ms. Alaya is also now investigating the union’s accounts and subsidy claims.
In March 2012, the U.G.T. and Spain’s other main union, Workers’ Commissions, called a general strike to protest against the government’s overhaul of labor rules to make it less costly for employers to hire and fire workers. Over the last year, however, the unions have used the labor market reforms to cut their own staff to help balance their books.
El Mundo, a national newspaper, and local news media started publishing leaked documents detailing the U.G.T.’s expenses after the Andalusian chapter’s management announced this year that it would lay off 159 employees.
“Firing people creates bad blood and a spirit of revenge among those who lose their job, while their bosses continue to live comfortably thanks to subsidies,” said Mr. Pin, the IESE professor.
Australian unions seems to have taken heed of that, for so far we have no new significant leaks from inside the corrupt culture of trade unions. Let’s hope that the Coalition Government will have the guts to establish an effective Royal Commission into Australian unionists’ sordid practices. Workers deserve it.